Pillbox

Mozzarella Sticks done right

A plate of delicious mozzarella sticks (credit: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons) A plate of delicious mozzarella sticks (credit: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

One of my greatest worldly passions is fast food. I love that I don’t have to wait in long lines. I love that if I spend more than five dollars it’s my own fault, and that it’s all so chock-full of delicious things that make you worry you might die at any point. Risk is what makes life exciting.

Recently, however, McDonald’s has played with my heart, and the hearts of millions of other blue-blooded Americans who just want inexpensive fried fast food without having to get out of the car. They expanded their menu with the addition of mozzarella sticks. Fried cheese on the dollar menu seemed like the best present McDonald’s could give us. This is one of those delightful comfort food options that you can have delivered with your pizza but not at a fast food restaurant. Sadly, we got our hopes up.

But once McDonald’s began to actually produce and sell their mozzarella sticks, many customers were in for an unexpected disappointment. The familiar cardboard take-out boxes contained three sticks of breading. But those sticks of breading did not contain any cheese. Cheese — the basis for mozzarella sticks.

Several users on social media posted photos and tagged McDonald’s to express their confusion, disappointment, even anger. McDonald’s responded with a confusing excuse: the cheese melted out while it was baking. First of all, I don’t understand how that much cheese just escapes in the oven, completely unnoticed by the line cooks. But even worse, why on earth are they baking their mozzarella sticks? The appeal of fried cheese is that it is fried. McDonald’s has rows of deep fryers, so why can’t these mozzarella sticks get a comforting oil bubble bath too?
If there’s one thing we’ve learned throughout this disaster, it’s that you can’t trust anyone. If you want something done correctly you have to deep fry it yourself.

Mozzarella Sticks, adapted from allrecipes.com
2 eggs
1/4 cup of water
1 1/2 cups Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon of garlic salt
2/3 cup of all-purpose flour
1/3 cup of corn starch
1 quart of oil for deep frying — canola, vegetable, or peanut, depending on your priorities
1 16-ounce package of mozzarella string cheese

Something I think more people need to embrace is that you don’t need a deep fryer to deep fry things. All you really need is a large pot of oil, a thermometer, and some diligence. The real trick is finding out what heat-setting on your stove will keep the oil at the right temperature. For your mozzarella stick, the oil should hang out around 365 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending on your stove, this will be around medium heat.

Now it’s time to prep the breading assembly line. You’ll have three bowls: flour and corn starch, egg and water, and the bread crumbs. Once you unwrap the cheese sticks and cut them in half, you can start to dredge! Each stick will go first in the flour mixture, then the egg mixture, and finally in the breadcrumbs. For best results, do this twice.

It will result in a mozzarella stick that’s extra crunchy on the outside while the cheese has enough protection to get nice and melty.

Only fry one to three mozzarella sticks at a time. If too many sticks are in there at a time, the oil will get too cold and will result in soggy breading. In my personal opinion, soggy breading is almost worse than hollow breading. The sticks will only need about 30 seconds in there, so pull them out and let them drain on a plate lined with a paper towel.

This may involve some more time and total money than a trip to McDonald’s would require, but in the end, you have mozzarella sticks that you can guarantee will be delicious and cheesy. In the end, it’s totally worth it.